Books are pathways to salvation for many. But there is a book namely “The Pilgrim’s Progress” showing us the cost of salvation. In 1678 and 1684, English author John Bunyan published Religious Allegory in two volumes. It was initially published during Charles II’s reign, and much of it was written whilst its Puritan author was detained for violating the Conventicle Act of 1593.
Part I (1678) depicts the author’s dream of Christian (a common man) as he journeys from his homeland, the City of Destruction, to the Celestial City. After reading a book, Christian feels a heavy load, the weight of his misdeeds (ostensibly the Bible). He walks away from his family after the evangelist guides him toward a wicket gate. He is pulled down by his weight into the Slough of Despair until a man named Help saves him. Mr. Worldly Wiseman then convinces Christian to ignore Evangelist’s advice and instead search for his son Civility or Mr. Legality in the Morality village. Christian’s weight, though, grows too heavy for him to continue. The evangelist reappears and re-directs him to the wicket-gate. Goodwill, the gatekeeper, lets him in and leads him to the Interpreter’s residence, where he gets Christian grace education.
Christian’s burden is lifted when he passes by a cross and a tomb. Three Shining Ones arrive and offer him a sealed scroll to present at the Celestial Gate. Christian continues on his journey, opting for the straight and narrow road until he meets the Hill Difficulty. He gets asleep in an Arbour halfway up the mountain, letting the scroll slide from his grasp. When he awakens, he travels to the top of the hill, to discover that he needs to return to the arbor to locate his lost scroll. Subsequently he visits the Palace Beautiful, where he encounters the damsels Discretion, Charity, Prudence, and Piety. They outfit him with Christian armour, and he learns that a prior neighbour, Faithful, is behind him.
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Christian then journeys through the Valley of Humiliation, fighting the demon Apollyon. He enters the dreadful Valley of the Shadow of Death. He eventually catches up to Faithful. The two arrive at Vanity, the site of the historic Vanity Fair, which is designed to entice pilgrims on their way to the Celestial City. Their unusual attire and dearth of interest in the fair’s products generate a disturbance, and they are apprehended. Faithful is brought before Lord Hate-good, sentenced to death, after, and carried into the Celestial City. Christian gets imprisoned again, but he escapes later. Christian departs Vanity with Hopeful, who was motivated by Faithful. Crossing the Plain of Ease, Christian and Hopeful reject the lure of a silver mine. The journey gets more difficult later on, and the two travelers, encouraged by Christian, choose an easier way through By-path Meadow. However, as they grow disoriented and find engulfed in a storm, Christian knows he has led them wrong. They wander on the grounds of Doubting Castle, where they are apprehended, imprisoned, and beaten by the Giant Despair. Finally, Christian recalls that he owns a key termed Promise, that he and Hopeful use to open the doors and escape. They arrive in the Delectable Mountains, outside the Celestial City, start following Flatterer, mistakenly, and are saved by a Shining One. They should cross a river as an exam of faith before entering the Celestial City, and then, after showing their scrolls, Christians and Hopeful are welcomed inside the city.
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In 1684, Christiana, Christian’s wife, their sons, with their neighbor Mercy delve to adjoin him in the Celestial City. In this part, the psychological intensity is lowered, and the capacity for humor and realistic observation is revealed. Christian’s family and Mercy, supported (spiritually and physically) by their guide Great-heart, who slaughters many giants and monsters along the road, have an easier time since Christian has paved the path. Whereas the bulk of people’s Christian confrontations show erroneous thinking that leads to damnation, Christiana discovers people who, with guidance, turn worthy of redemption. When they arrive in the Celestial City, Christiana’s sons and the brides they married along the route remain to assist future travelers.
The book is a Puritan transformation story, with progenitors inJohn Foxe’s The Book of Martyrs (1563), John Bunyan’s Grace Abounding (1666), and other Renaissance roundel chapbooks and books. The Pilgrim’s Progress, written in rustic yet dignified biblical English, has some of the traits of a folktale, and it predicts the 18th-century novel in its comedy and realistic representations of minor people. It has been translated into over 200 languages, with notable versions including a 1951 opera by Ralph Vaughan Williams.